Middle School Marketing: Old School vs. New School PR

Since the majority of our MSM meetings have focused primarily on today’s online marketing tactics, this week we decided to take a closer look at some timeless “Old School” marketing principles. This week Lisa Throckmorton kicked off and led our discussion. As a veteran in the PR industry, Lisa provided insight into old school PR tactics and fostered a great discussion about the differences, parallels, and overall evolution of PR which helped us answer the question: are marketing principles that are applied in traditional PR still relevant today?

Old School PR Highlights:

  • PR was primarily tied to the idea of Press Releases. It was all about the “thud factor.” Bigger clips book, or thud book, (the binder showcasing all the articles/stories you were able to get placed), the better.
  • PR professionals were oftentimes disparaged if they were only able to get placements online; the focus was on print, print, print!
  • Metrics were largely volume based - number of articles, impressions, and/or interviews received.
  • The voice was of the company, whether they were pushing a new service, product, or general news announcements.
  • The highest value that PR provided was speed to market.

PR circa 2009:

  • PR encompasses everything from press releases and e-newsletters to blogging and community management.
  • Email, tweeting, and more grassroots efforts have replaced cold calling as the main way to reach writers.
  • It’s all about finding the digital influencers – those individuals or sites that have a strong presence and supporters.
  • PR professionals are disparaged if they are NOT able to get placements online; the coveted WSJ story is still important for most companies, but the focus is quickly shifting away from print to online media; big pushes are for the popular online news sources (Google News, Techcrunch).
  • The voice is of both the company and the customers – the goal is to foster conversation rather than push information.
  • The highest value that PR provides is still speed to market.


The focus of PR has shifted away from traditional media channels to online, metrics have progressed from just volume to measurable ROI and the primary goal has transformed from an informational to conversational.  Finally, to answer our initial question, while the majority of traditional PR principles and practices are not as relevant in today’s world of online marketing, one thing does remain the same: the value that good PR brings is priceless.

Anjali McKenzie

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Posted in Article Category: #Strategy
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